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Education

Murcian solidarity in the heart of Africa

The Universidad Católica de Murcia has supported, financially and by providing medical teaching staff, the humanitarian expedition organised by WorldProject NGO to treat the sick, train medical staff and equip a clinic and an ambulance in Uganda.

Thu, 15/09/2022 - 17:14

Nearly 5500 kilometres in a straight line separate the town of Kikaaya (in Uganda)
from Murcia, a distance that almost vanishes when the sun rises in the heart of
Africa and the volunteers of WorldProject and UCAM put on their UCAM T-shirts
—which are already unmistakable for the local population and represent a glimmer of
hope in these latitudes. For the second consecutive year, a team of professors from
the educational institution presided over by José Luis Mendoza has left the comfort
of their daily routine for two weeks to collaborate with WorldProject NGO in its
international mission to set up and equip a clinic and train health personnel in the
area.

 

“This clinic provides free support and assistance to around 15,000 people. When
necessary, patients are admitted for a short stay and we also have the option of
transferring them in an ambulance to the hospital” said Manuel Luque, president of
WorldProject. He feels very grateful to UCAM for the strong support the university
has shown for this cause, which came about through the drive and determination of
Manuel Pardo, Vice-Dean of the UCAM Bachelor's Degree in Podiatry. Reaching the
Chloe clinic, where the mission has taken place, is a 24-hour journey with endless
stopovers, car routes on non-existent roads, and even a boat trip on Lake Victoria.

Member of the UCAM staff attending a baby

 

Today, Wednesday, on their return, they were received at UCAM by Jerónimo
Lajara
, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who praised the WorldProject initiative, the
commitment of the University's lecturers who have become involved in this cause
and the involvement of the university, “which has a vocation to help others,
something we always want to instil in our students. This particular mission has the
added bonus of training people there, so that they have instructed personnel who
can perfectly follow up on patients, and little by little they can offer complete services
that have continuity when it comes to attending to their population”.
“Father Alcaraz (UCAM Vice-Rector of University Outreach and Volunteering)
encouraged us to get involved in projects to strengthen ties and create a real sense
of responsibility” said Professor Pardo. And that is what happened. On arrival at their
destination, they found that introductions were no longer necessary, as the Kikaaya
healthcare professionals and patients greeted them with hugs and the gratitude of
seeing that their commitment endures.

A patient atended by the UCAM staff

Mutual learning between lecturers and health professionals

This was the second time for Asun Quirante, 061 doctor and UCAM lecturer, and she
is confident it will not be the last. Training is continuous and the experience enriches
everyone: “One of the most interesting parts is that the health staff there and us see
the patients together and discuss how we approach the cases. It's a learning
experience for both
”.
The focus of this year's work has been on equipping the clinic with new tools and
training the staff in its proper use. The UCAM lecturers have adapted the clinical
simulation classes they give to their students in Murcia and have taught the
professionals at Kikaaya essential aspects such as sutures, immobilisation with
plaster casts, first aid or assistance in childbirth, as well as the performance and
interpretation of diagnostic tests such as electrocardiograms or ultrasound scans.
Giulio Fenzi, professor of nursing, comments that “this training has been very much
appreciated as they have seen that it can be very helpful. They consider it very
valuable, and we know it will be”.
Dafne Granado (physiotherapist), Yassel Parra (doctor) and the EMTs Rubén
Gabarrón
and Gustavo López also took part in the expedition.

Health care training and assistance

The day-to-day work went on with long working days to make the most of the hours
of sunlight. Efforts had to be divided to install the new machines that had arrived
from Spain, to train the local staff, to consult with them in order to compare
diagnoses and enrich each other, and to continue improving the conditions of a clinic
that is gradually taking on the appearance of a medical centre as we understand it in
Europe.
The Worldproject ONG and UCAM volunteers know that their work is essential for
thousands of people to have free and dignified health care that serves as both a first
reference in case of an emergency and a local centre they have access to. Thanks
to the ambulance that was equipped last year and the service offered by the clinic,
certain cases can be treated under better conditions and even moved to the nearest
hospitals, something unthinkable a few years ago.
The expressions of gratitude on the Ugandan's faces say it all. They generate extra
energy for the members of this project who, after leaving the comfort of their homes,
are certain that they will return, as Asun Quirante comments: “The work is very hard,
but the experience is incredible. The gratitude of the patients and colleagues who
work there makes up for everything
. It's my second time there and I'm sure I'll be
back”.

Keeping Uganda in their minds, without losing contact

The expedition members arrived in Murcia last night and have resumed their
professional and academic activities today. Their physical fatigue is compensated by
the overflowing energy of the gratitude of Kikaaya’s inhabitants. The commitment to
return remains and they keep in contact as, during the year, the clinic's staff share
experiences and cases with the UCAM professors to see how they would approach
treatment. The 5500 kilometres that separate the Ugandan clinic from UCAM are

blurred under the lines of cooperation and hope, a hope that WorldProject ONG and
UCAM have taken to the heart of Africa.